US East Coast blanketed by 'bombogenesis' snowstorm

  • Published
Media caption,

People were warned to stay at home as the storm swept in

Parts of the US East Coast have been battered by blizzard conditions and heavy snowfall, sparking transport chaos and power cuts for thousands.

Five states declared an emergency hours before piles of snow and high winds blasted the area on Saturday.

Some areas of Massachusetts have seen as much as 2.5ft (75cm) of snow, with locals told to hunker down inside.

Nearly 6,000 US flights were cancelled across the weekend, with conditions expected to lighten on Sunday.

Forecasters warn cold temperatures will remain a problem throughout much of the north-east, with the snowstorm set to move on to the state of Maine.

The storm, known as a Nor'easter, has hit parts of New York and Massachusetts with heavy snowfall, coastal flooding and blizzard conditions.

The city of Boston got 23.6in (60cm) of snow on Saturday - matching a previous one-day record.

By Saturday night, more than 80,000 homes in the state of Massachusetts were still without electricity.

Cape Cod was one of the worst hit regions, with every customer in the town of Provincetown losing power on Saturday. Coastal storm surge flooding was also reported in Nantucket.

Local meteorologist Matthew Cappucci told the BBC the sheer volume of snow was a problem, with 8-10cm of snow falling each hour at one point.

"No road crew in the world could handle this, and that means all the roadways are essentially shut down."

Media caption,

US winter storm brings record snowfall to Boston

The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed on Saturday that the storm had undergone bombogenesis, meaning that colder air mixed with warmer sea air, leading to a swift drop in atmospheric pressure. The process leads to a so-called bomb cyclone.

The NWS in Boston warned that people should only travel in an emergency.

"If you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you. If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle."

The powerful storm began to hit the country's coast in the early hours of Saturday morning, with millions of residents urged to stay home across much of the weekend.

Parts of New York state saw 2ft (61cm) of snow, with workers struggling to manage thick blankets covering popular New York City tourist spots like Times Square.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
A cross country skier made the most of the icy conditions on Boston Common
Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
New York officials have told people to stay home and wait the storm out
Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Parts of Massachusetts coast were lashed with high winds

A blizzard warning was issued throughout the north-east, the first time such an alert has been issued since 2018.

Some 75 million people are in the path of the storm. The governors of New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island and Virginia declared states of emergency, telling residents to stay off the roads for their own safety.

"It's high winds, heavy snow, blizzard conditions - all the elements of a classic Nor'easter," New York Governor Kathy Hochul said on Saturday. She warned that freezing temperatures would continue to cause problems after the snow had stopped.

Police in New Jersey's Atlantic City pleaded with residents not to "make it harder on our first responders by venturing out", while Governor Phil Murphy said that the state's famous shoreline "is getting clobbered" by the storm.

In Connecticut bus operations have been suspended until Sunday, while Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee has announced the closure of several bridges due to "dangerous conditions".

Despite the warnings some people were determined to enjoy themselves in the snow. In New York, children played on sleds in Central Park and a snowball fight broke out in Washington Square Park.

Florida, usually known for its mild winters, is also expected to see some of its coldest temperatures in years, which could lead to iguanas - a cold-blooded lizard species - to become immobilised and fall out of trees.

Media caption,

Watch: The storm battering the US East Coast seen from space

Related Topics